584: Unsatisfied

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Unsatisfied
Forever comparing, never evaluating on any external scale. If you were a sort function, you'd never break the nlogn barrier.
Title text: Forever comparing, never evaluating on any external scale. If you were a sort function, you'd never break the nlogn barrier.

[edit] Explanation

Cueball is trying to decide if he wants to stay with Ponytail who he is currently dating or leave her and have a relationship with Megan. The comic suggests that no matter which one he chooses he will never truly achieve happiness because of his longing for the option he chose not to take. In a sense this is a no-win situation.

The title text is referring to a concept in computer science. All comparison based sorting algorithms are incapable of sorting an arbitrary set of n values faster than an order of n*log(n). On the other hand non-comparison sorting algorithms (e.g. bucket sort) with external knowledge of the distribution of the values can sort them with order n. If Cueball was capable of establishing an external scale he could use a non-comparison sort, but as he does not know what the best thing for him is he is stuck with comparisons and thus he can't achieve better performance.

[edit] Transcript

[A blonde, Ponytail, and a man, Cueball, are holding hands, looking at another woman with black hair, Megan.]
[Two arrows direct the comic into a pair of different paths.]
(Left path) [Cueball is holding hands with Ponytail, but he is thinking about Megan.]
(Right path) [Cueball approaches Megan. He is thinking about Ponytail.]
(Left path) [Cueball is performing oral sex on Ponytail, and still thinking about Megan.]
(Right path) [Cueball and Megan have sex on the arm of a chair. Cueball is thinking about Ponytail.]
(Left path) [Cueball and Ponytail are drawing something together, and Cueball is thinking about Megan.]
(Right path) [Cueball and Megan are hiking together. Cueball is thinking about Ponytail.]
(Left path) [Cueball and Ponytail are holding hands, and Cueball is thinking of Megan.]
(Right path) [Cueball and Megan are holding hands, and Cueball is thinking of Ponytail.]
[The path unites again.]
[Two gravestones are next to each other. One of them is thinking about a third gravestone.]
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Discussion

I interpreted the right-most column as Megan fantasising about being with Cueball, but finding her fantasy dissatisfactory as she imagines Cueball will continue to long for Ponytail. ‎139.222.236.222 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)


I think the title text points to Cueball going through both hypothetical lives. Yuriy206
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